A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Sylvia Broady

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

This is the fifth of my interviews with a Romantic Saga Author, and today I’m delighted to be talking to Sylvia Broady.

Welcome, Sylvia, lovely to see you here today.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Judith.

Let me start by asking, When you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga – or series of stories rather than one story?

Yes, I always did intend to write my sagas as stand-alone books, though reading your question, Judith, made me consider, what if?

      DAUGHTER OF THE SEA, my latest book is set in the 1930s to 1940s, stems from a novella I wrote many years ago. That story was set in the 19th century, and the main male character, Christian Hansen, is the grandfather of the present day Christian Hansen. A wealth of historic and social information for the deep sea fishing community, most written about men, very little written about women. And I write about strong women.

     THE LOST DAUGHTER spans over twenty-five years, 1930s to 1950s and is one story of mother and daughter. The long, often a dangerous and thwarted journey of their lives, apart and together.

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     THE YEARNING HEART spans twenty years, 1940 to 1960, a complex story, centres around the female protagonist Fran. It is her story, which is intertwined with her mother, her sister, her daughter, and her son, their stories. Plus, her relationship with the love interests is complicated.  On reflexion, cutting 40,000 words for my then publisher, I would have written a series. First Fran’s mother, then Fran’s story, and of her son who went to live in Australia.  

    

A TIME FOR PEACE is definitely a stand-alone story. 1945, the end of World War 2 and peace, which brings many challenges. Originally a short story, which I knew deserved to be a novel. It originated from an incident told to me by my late husband. As a young boy, he witnessed the last killing raid by the Luftwaffe on the city of Hull. 

Which do think is more important, the family story or the romance?

It depends on the storyline. I write sagas, set mainly in the 20th century. Family orientated, with romance, I am a big believer in that romance makes the world go round. I enjoy listening to popular songs, and most of them have a romantic theme. And in the stories I write, romance is intertwined with the family story, and the social history of the time. Though forbidden love can play havoc with the family life, and tragedy can turn a family and a romance upside-down. 

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in

Most important. I have to admit; I love the historical research of the period I am writing about. What clothes they wore, food they ate, education, the rights or non-rights of women, working-class attitudes, and social history of the time. Music of the era, the pictures and film stars, music hall and entertainers. World War 2 brings freedom to women to do men’s work and fight for the country and peace. 

DAUGHTER OF THE SEA, my latest book is set in the Hessle Road area of Kingston upon Hull, and the fish dock is Saint Andrews, between 1930s to 1940s. The men who go deep sea fishing to distant waters are trawlermen, not fishermen, and they are away for 3 weeks and only home for about 3 days. And known as the “Three Day Millionaires”. It is the strong women of this close-knit community who hold the family together. Little is written about the women, and researching I found that when a trawler sank with all-hands, the women received no money from the trawler owners. Their children would be sent to the orphanage, so as well as losing their husbands, they also lost their children. And the children lost both parents. This, and other complications, is the heart of the story I write about. How these strong women fought to keep their children and to survive? 

When I wrote A Time for Peace, 1945-1946, I was delighted to receive an email from a reader in Canada, telling me she lived in the area when young and knew the streets and other place name I wrote about. If possible, I like to talk to eye-witnesses. I spoke to a dear lady who in March 1945 saw the Luftwaffe flying so low she could see the pilot as he drop his bomb. He then went on to gun down and kill 12 and injure 22 patrons, leaving the Savoy cinema.

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The Lost Daughter also covers WW2 and heroine, Alice, a nurse, joins the WAAF and has special training to fly in a Dakota on missions to the war zones to bring back the injured. They are allowed chewing gum and an orange before each flight. Their medication equipment in their panniers also contains morphine and oxygen.

The Yearning Heart is set around the river and area near to where I live. I had taken artist licence with place names of pubs and streets, and added an extra lane, but local readers still recognised the area. I am a fan of the TV programme, “Long Lost Families”, which fascinated me. My story is about twins separated at birth and a mother’s quest to find them.

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?

When I start writing the first draft of my book, I have a clipboard, A3 size.  On the left-hand side, I write down my main characters and all their relevant details: d.o.b background, occupation, relationship to other characters, etc. On the right side of the clipboard, are details of minor characters and how they interact with the storyline and other characters.

I also have a notebook for each book, in which I write a summary of each chapter, the characters, location, and everything connected to the story and timeline. This keeps my finger on the pulse and works well for me. In the past, I have tried other methods, but this system works well for me.

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world, How important is the time period to the development of your narrative?

In my latest book, Daughter of the Sea, time span is 9 years. Jessica, the main character is a young, naïve girl in 1937 and over the years, she experiences, heartache, betrayal, disaster, WW2 and all its tragedies, and finally, true love. She has grown into a compassionate woman of many strengths.

The Lost Daughter spans twenty-five years. Alice is the mother and Daisy is her missing daughter. It is a long, hard road to find her. In the early 1930s a young frightened mother, married to a wife beater, Alice finds herself homeless and penniless, and her daughter has been fostered to a person unknown. Her determination to survive and find her daughter, shapes her into a strong woman who will succeed.   

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A Time For Peace set 1945-1946 and the aftermath of war brings more heartache, especially for Rose, disillusioned by love. She sets out to help others, becoming involved in their heartaches and family problems, bringing joy into many lives and in doing so, finds her soulmate. 

The Yearning Heart spans twenty years, when age 16, Fran is raped by her sister’s husband. Sent away from the family home, she gives birth to twins. The twins are cruelly taken from her and it becomes her quest in life, to find her children and to be reunited with them. But every avenue she searches is blocked and filled with lies. It twists and turns, jumping upside down, leaving her facing her greatest challenge. The decision she makes.

About Sylvia:

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My latest news for Daughter of the Sea – paperback publication date 18th February 2021

My website: https://sylviabroadyauthor.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SylviaBroadyAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SylviaBroady

I am a member of the Romantic Novelist Association. The Beverley Chapter.

Also The Historical Novel Society and The Society of Authors.

To sum me up in 4 words: My passion is Writing.

 

A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Tracy Baines #TuesdayBookBlog

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

This is the fourth of my interviews with a Romantic Saga Author, and today I’m delighted to be talking to Tracy Baines

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Welcome, Tracy, so happy you’re here today.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Judith.

When you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga – or series of stories rather than one story?

It was always going to be a series. My friend, author Margaret Graham had suggested I write a wartime series as they were popular. I’d wanted to set something in my home town of Cleethorpes for a long time. My parents managed a pub, The Pier Hotel opposite  Cleethorpes pier and I lived and breathed entertainment – but only from the safety of the wings. I wanted to set the stories among the people who work at the theatre in a small seaside town. Variety people have to be versatile; they sing, dance and take part in sketches – they have to be able to turn their hand to anything. It gave me a broad canvas to work with and the chance to have some larger than life characters. When the cast of a show come together they form a bond and become a family as such. It gave me lots to play around with – what is family after all?

Which do think is more important, the family story or the romance?

Not so much a family as a sense of community. I think that’s important – a sense of people coming together and helping each other, especially in wartime – for children would be evacuated and families torn apart. Family became a hotch-potch of people and that’s what interested me most of all. There’s still romance because that’s part and parcel of life but it’s not the only thing.

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters livein.

Hugely important. I know the area of my story well, but I didn’t know what it was like in 1939. There has been huge change, some things remain but many of the places of entertainment had changed entirely – or disappeared altogether. I could find very little in the way of images of the interiors of the Empire theatre so I made one up based on what would be familiar to readers – what their expectations would be. I used to walk past the back of the theatre and knew there were windows at pavement level so imagined them high up on the wall of the dressing rooms. I had enough knowledge to work a layout. As for reading, I read many biographies of entertainers of the time such as Gracie Fields, Jessie Matthews and Evelyn Laye, as well as text books on World War 2 to fact check. I watched old movies that were filmed late 1939s early 1940s to get a sense of the furnishings and language. I watched a lot of Talking Pictures TV. I also looked for eyewitness accounts on the internet. The BBC site The People’s War was a great resource.

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?

I keep them in a file. I write down characters as they appear – their ages, details such as colour of hair and eyes, height, shape and distinguishing features. I have a chapter grid so I know what happens in each chapter and who appears in it. Each time I edit I add to or delete as necessary. This also helps me work out a time-line. People will have had birthdays even if they aren’t mentioned in the books. It became my ‘bible’.

When I was writing book two I could refer back to it and it helped enormously. It’s amazing how easily you can forget something quite crucial.

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world. How important is the time period to the development of your narrative?

It’s vital. Everything has to be plausible. It has to fit with the confines and morals of the period. If you don’t get this right you lose the reader, not just for that book but for all your consequent books. It’s a matter of trust between the reader and the author. My Variety Girls inhabit the world of Variety theatre just before WW2. Variety theatre, child of the music hall was frowned upon by many. The attitudes then were not those of today. If you get the time period wrong you break the illusion.

Christmas with the Variety Girls

Will Christmas bring an unexpected reunion?

Frances O’Leary has always dreamed of being a dancer. But after war is declared and the theatres begin to close, Frances and the variety girls must search for work elsewhere.

However, Frances is hiding a secret. As far as her best friend Jessie knows, Frances is a young aunt who adores her niece, Imogen – but what she doesn’t know is that their relationship runs much deeper. Now, with the sweetheart who cruelly abandoned her returning to England, will her secret finally be revealed…?

A heartwarming festive saga for fans of Katie Flynn and Elaine Everest.

https://amzn.to/3niiE60

About Tracy Baines

Tracy Baines was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. When she was eight her parents took over the management of the pub opposite the pier, The Pier Hotel.  Her father opened one of the rooms as a music venue bringing performers such as Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Billy J Kramer and Billy Fury to start the ball rolling. So began her love of live entertainment.

From the age of sixteen, Tracy worked backstage during summer seasons, pantomimes and everything else in-between on the pier.  She met her husband when he was appearing with the Nolan Sisters and she was Assistant Stage Manager.

The first two books in the Variety Girls series are set in Cleethorpes, in the square mile that was her childhood home.

Tracy lives in Dorset with her husband and springer spaniel, Harry. Her children and grandchildren live close by.

Website: www.tracybaines.co.uk

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/tracybainesauthor/

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/tracyfbaines

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tracyfbaines/

A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Elaine Everest #TuesdayBookBlog

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

This is the third of my interviews with a Romantic Saga Author, and today I’m delighted to be talking to Elaine Everest.

Welcome, Elaine, lovely to see you here today.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Judith.

Let me start by asking, When you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga – or series of stories rather than one story?

That’s an interesting question as when I was fist contracted by Pan Macmillan it was for ‘The Woolworths Girls and one other book.’ I recall at an early lunch with my then editor I asked about writing series and was told they never commission series. Fast forward a year to publication of The Woolworths Girls, and by then I had submitted book two (The Butlins Girls) and was away on a writing retreat working on The Teashop Girls – a second contract. A phone call from my, editor who was thrilled to tell me the Woolworths book had gone into the bestseller charts. I was told to stop what I was writing and start another Woolies book. A series was born! Readers have been wonderful and still ask for more books set in that iconic store. I also started something of a trend and was named Queen of the Workplace Saga by The Bookseller. Since then I’ve started a series set on the Kent coast in WW2 about the lives of Nippies working in the well-known Lyon’s teashops, which seems to have started a trend for café and teashop novels.
I’m fortunate in that I’m not commissioned to write a series but can move between different books so that if readers enjoy a story I can write a second. My current novel, Christmas with the Teashop Girls is the second in the series and I’d love to return to tell more about the lives of Rose, Lily, Katie, and their extended families but that will be for another year as there are currently two books written for 2021. The first returns to Erith and the girls from Woolworth, but with a twist. It is 1905 and we follow matriarch Ruby Caselton as a young woman when moves into her new home in Alexandra Road
.

Which do think is more important, the family story or the romance?

It has to be the family story. Sagas contain the trials and tribulations of multi-generational families and although romance does play a part in their lives there is so much more to tell. Social history plays a big part as well as the warmth and frustrations of family life along with good times and bad.  I do love a good romance in my books, but I also enjoy throwing bricks at my girls, so their lives are never straightforward. Let’s face it our lives hardly ever run smoothly so why should a character in a book?

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in

Research is paramount even before a book is suggested to my publisher. What’s that saying, ‘we live in interesting times?’ Well, so must my characters. Readers want to learn more about the town where our girls live and work. Research also throws up little nuggets of information we can weave a story around. In A Mother Forever (Jan/Mar 2021) I cover munitions workers in the 1920s and knowing my grandmother, Cissie Whiffen, worked in the very factory where my characters earned a living made it extra special. I even gave her a small part in the book. I only learned of her work after her death, so it is very much a fictional part for a real person.

We should never throw too much history into our sagas as the plot is paramount. It is easy to tell when new saga authors have done this – I call it ‘product placement!’ Although I’ve written many books set in WW2, I did venture back to Erith in the early 1900s and it was a joy to attend talks about brickworks, WW1 and hospitals treating the facially wounded in that area. Local history is a gift to a historical novelist.

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?

Chatting to author friends we all have different methods. For me I like to have a nice new A5 hardback notebook – any excuse to buy stationery! This book has a few pages for each character and I diligently add information about them as I write the book. This becomes my bible, and if the time comes to write another in the seirs I have that book to go back on not only to read but to add to.

I’m just planning a book for 2022 that revisits Woolworths in the 1950s and this time I am writing about the older children and in a way I’ve moved on a generation, although my old characters will still be around. I’m excited about this as not only will it carry on the series, but I can show Erith and the surrounding area after WW2 and how people are still coping in a time where there is still rationing, and for some deprivation. This will mean I’ve covered fifty years of history of the town where I was born. Another one book and I’ll appear as a baby!

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world, How important is the time period to the development of your narrative?

The time period is very important. For one thing it has to interest my reader and for another it is part of carry the story forward through the years. As my books are set in a real place I do feel an obligation to the families living there to get my story right. It may be that their loved ones lived through a tragedy, or perhaps a happy time, and to have my characters live it to and then be told ‘you got it right’ is truly satisfying. One of the biggest honours I’ve experienced was when I reader write to me to say her daughter had never been interested in history so when she had to take part in a school project her mum gave her a copy of my books and the young lady was hooked and now enjoys the subject. Thinking back, I too learned so much about the love of history from saga authors such as Dee Williams, Carol Rivers, and Iris Gower.
Although my Woolworths series is now moving into the 1950s – and also visited 1905 – I’m not sure if it had started then the books would have been so popular. World War Two is a big draw to readers as it can relates to their own family history with parents and grandparents having played their part in what was a most important time in world history. This is why I feel we authors should do our best to write the truth and not make it up as we go along.

About Elaine:

Elaine Everest hails from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her hometown of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of non-fiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over one hundred short stories for the women’s magazine market. A winner of major competitions including BBC Radio short story of the year writer, and runner up in the Harry Bowling Prize she enjoys a writing challenge. This includes broadcasting live on radio and having to think on her feet when asked awkward questions while giving talks.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and Polish Lowland sheepdog, Henry.

Elaine’s next book, A Mother Forever, is available for pre order on all good selling site and available in supermarkets and bookstores from 4th March (hardback January 2021):

1905: Ruby Caselton may only be twenty-five years old but she already has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Heavily pregnant with her second child, penniless and exhausted, she is moving her family into a new home. The Caseltons left their last place when they couldn’t pay the rent, but Ruby’s husband Eddie has promised this will be a fresh start for them all. And Ruby desperately hopes that this time he will keep his word.

With five-year-old George at her feet and her mother having a cross word for everyone and everything, life is never dull at number thirteen Alexandra Road. It doesn’t take long before Eddie loses another job and once again hits the bottle. It’s up to Ruby to hold them all together, through thick and thin. She remembers the kind, caring man Eddie once was and just can’t give up on him entirely. What she doesn’t know is that Eddie has a secret, one so dark that he can’t bear to tell even Ruby . . .

Through Ruby’s grit and determination, she keeps food on the table and finds herself a community of neighbours on Alexandra Road. Stella, the matriarch from across the way, soon becomes a friend and confidante. She even dreams that Ruby will ditch the useless Eddie and take up with her eldest son, Frank. But when war breaks out in 1914, the heartbreaks and losses that follow will fracture their community, driving both Stella and Ruby to breaking point. Will their men ever return to them?

A Mother Forever is the moving story of one woman’s journey through the worst trials of her life – poverty, grief, betrayal – but through it all is the love and comfort she finds in family: the family we’re connected to through blood, but also the family we make for ourselves with neighbours and friends.

Links:

Website:  www.elaineeverest.com

Twitter: @elaineeverest

Facebook :Elaine Everest Author

Amazon: (Christmas with the Teashop Girls) https://tinyurl.com/yxagxk7r

Amazon: (A Mother Forever) https://tinyurl.com/y2fswqsl

A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Francesca Capaldi

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts. And today I’m delighted to be talking to one of them.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

This is the second of my interviews with a Romantic Saga Author, and today, as I’ve said, I’m so pleased to be with one of the authors who blog at Write Minds, Francesca Capaldi.

When you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga – or series of stories rather than one story

I only came up with the idea for Heartbreak in the Valleys originally, as the idea was sparked by my great grandfather’s war record. But it wasn’t long after I started writing a scene breakdown for Heartbreak that I came up with the idea for two further books, the second of which, War in the Valleys, has just been published. But I did also make each of them a standalone story.

Which do think is more important, the family story or the romance?

Originally the romantic element was uppermost in my mind, but as different members of the family made their personalities known, the family aspect grew. I’d say it’s probably half and half.

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in?

Very important, both for the readers and for myself. I like to feel fully immersed in the period, as if I were there myself. Hopefully, that allows me to pass on this feeling to my readers. I’ve had a couple of readers tell me they’ve learnt something about the era through the details, which is very satisfying for me as a writer with a history background.

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your books over a stretch of time?

I have a file on Word with all the characters on it, right down to the very minor ones. I put in any details I know about them at the start, then add characters and details to it as I’m writing the story. It’s a huge help in keeping storylines consistent.

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world. How important is the time period to the development of your narrative?

The time period I’m writing in, World War 1, is a seminal time in British (and world) history, not just because of the war but because of the rise of unions and workers rights, along with women’s rights and universal suffrage. All these aspects inform the story in some way, so yes, the time period is crucial to the narrative.

Thank you for having me on your blog today, Judith. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.

It’s been brilliant having you here, Francesca. I absolutely love the cover of War in the Valleys, and I’ve found your answers fascinating. I’m sure your readers will as well.

About the author

Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and four pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.

Links

Heartbreak in the Valleys: amzn.to/2XUSTyB

War in the Valleys: amzn.to/2HxbDhT

Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/35REQ06

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FrancescaCapaldiAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FCapaldiBurgess

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/francesca.capaldi.burgess/

A Few Moments with #RNA #FamilySaga writer Tania Crosse

Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts, who you’ll soon be able to read about here.

I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.

Today is the first interview and I’m thrilled to introduce a prolific and wonderful author, Tania Crosse.

Welcome, Tania, so happy you’re here today.

Please tell us, when you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga or series of stories rather than one book?

I never intentionally set out to write a series, it just seemed to evolve. My debut novel, Morwellham’s Child, is set at Morwellham Quay, the major Victorian copper port in Devon that’s been a living history museum since the early 1970s. I discovered it in the late 1990s on our first family holiday in the area, and was amazed to discover that nobody had ever written a story to illustrate its history. Living two hundred miles away, over the three years it took me to complete, we made frequent trips there for research purposes, and fell in love with nearby Dartmoor. So much so that in 2003, we bought a tiny cottage in a  small village on the moor, which we owned for fifteen years, spending one week out of every month there throughout the year and becoming part of the local community. The more I learnt about the moor’s fascinating history, the more subjects I discovered that I wanted to illustrate in human, if fictitious, terms. I’ve written about mining, farming, the gunpowder mills, the infamous prison, quarrying, Tavistock workhouse, the arrival of various railways, the Great Flood of 1890 and the Great Blizzard of 1891. The first five books covered the Victorian era, followed by two illustrating Dartmoor’s part in the Great War. Then I was asked by my then agent, the lovely late Dot Lumley, to set two sagas set in the 1950s, and I set those on Dartmoor, too, again basing them on local history, but also bringing in wider events such as the legacy of WW2 and then the Korean War of 1950s. Although each book in the series stands alone, there is a thread running through them, which readers love to follow. After completing the Devonshire series, I had to take a break for various reasons, but eventually came to write Twentieth Century sagas, Nobody’s Girl and A Place To Call Home, originally one story inspired by a visit to Chartwell. The publishers, Aria Fiction, however, liked it so much that they asked me to expand it into two volumes, although each can be read alone. Finally, the Banbury Street series of two books is set in the London back street where I lived as a small child. The stories are set a decade apart and are completely separate, the main link being the matriarch of the street, Evangeline Parker, who I loved so much in the first book that I wanted to explore her more in the second. I’m so glad I did, as that was the book,The Street of Broken Dreams, that won Saga of the Year in the RNA Awards 2020 earlier this year.

Which do you think is more important, the family story or the romance?

For me what is actually more important is the historical background and the facts that I want to illustrate. I like to place my characters into what was a real life situation and see how they cope with it, weaving a tense, emotional story out of true fact. Inevitably, a family story and a romance will grow out of it, but it’s the social history behind it that’s most important. The Quarry Girl, for instance, illustrates life at remote, windswept Foggintor Quarry, which was a complete little community with cottages, gardens and even a chapel-cum-school, the ruins of which can still be seen today. Then the Princetown Railway opened in 1883, giving the quarrymen and their families easier access to the outside world. How might their lives have changed? One thing I discovered was the particular way in which the quarrymen would conduct the funeral of a colleague, and that found its way into the story as a major event in the life of the heroine and her family.

How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in?

Absolutely essential! As you can see, the historical background is what I aim to illustrate in the first place, but I will always go all out to track down the tiniest detail. If I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for, I will never make it up. If I’m not certain that something is correct, then it doesn’t go in the book. But meticulous research must be the same for any genre, except perhaps fantasy and sci-fi! What is fantastic is when you suddenly hit on something that’s exactly what you’re looking for. I’m currently working on the first of a trilogy set in Plymouth – again, all stand alones that happen to be set in the same city – and came across an actual film of George V’s Jubilee celebrations there in 1935 that I wanted to write about. I was cock-a-hoop!

How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?

Copious hand-written notes! (I don’t trust technology!) Date of birth, stature, colour of eyes and hair, and any other particular features or anything they’ve done before coming on the scene that I might need to refer to later. All quite important if you bring back characters from earlier books as I do particularly in the Devonshire series. In The Ambulance Girl, I wind up what has happened to all the characters and their families from the Victorian era through to 1919, so I had to get that right. The book finishes with an epilogue set in 1939 that provides a link through to the first of the 1950s Dartmoor sagas, Lily’s Journey, which was pretty poignant with most of the earliest characters having passed away by then. There are also tiny links to the Kent/London based series, too. The hero of the two Kent stories is in the RAF during WW2. There were a number of aircrashes on Dartmoor during the conflict, and when his plane comes down one night, he is rescued by descendants of earlier characters in the Devonshire series who remain farmers on the moor, so I had to have all their details correct. Very discerning readers might spot Lily as a small child in London-set The Street of Broken Dreams, so I had to have her at the correct age, of course. I’ve only ever made one continuity mistake. I’m not going to tell you what! Nobody’s ever noticed, or at least, they’ve never said, and I think that with so many books under my belt, I can be forgiven – although I have to say, it annoys me intensely to know I made such an error!

A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world. How important is the time period to the development of your narrative?

It really depends on what the story demands. My books do tend to cover a period of years, sometimes four or five, or sometimes taking a character from childhood to maturity. I do make use of prologues and/or epilogues in some of my novels if I think it’s appropriate. In The Street of Broken Dreams, for instance, I have a prologue set in 1944 that’s crucial to the plot, although the main part of the book takes part during the summer of 1945, from April to the autumn. There is then a gap before the epilogue in 1951, necessary as the heroine tries to come to terms with the trauma she suffers in 1944, but then something happens in 1951 that finally sets her free. The break is also necessary for the sub plot involving her best friend whose moral fibre has driven her to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of another. However, whatever I consider the necessary time scale to be, the most important thing is that the characters find peace or at least hope for the future in one way or the other, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion for the reader.

Thank you for being here on my blog today, Tania.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tania Crosse was born in London and lived in Banbury Street, Battersea, the setting of her two latest novels, The Candle Factory Girl and The Street of Broken Dreams. Later, the family moved to Surrey where her love of the countryside took root. She  wanted to be an author since she was a child, but having graduated with a degree in French Literature, she did not have time to indulge her passion for writing until her own family had grown up. She eventually began penning historical novels set on her beloved Dartmoor. After completing her Devonshire series, some of which are currently being re-published by Joffe Books, she took her writing career in a new direction with four Twentieth Century sagas set in London and the south east, which were published by Aria Fiction. She was thrilled when the last of these, The Street of Broken Dreams, won Best Saga of the Year in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2020 Awards. Tania and her husband have lived in a small village on the Hampshire/Berkshire border since 1976. They have three grown-up children, two grandchildren and a variety of grand-dogs! Tania’s interests, apart from reading and writing, of course, are dance, gardening and rambling, especially on Dartmoor, naturally!

A list of Tania’s books:

Morwellham’s Child: amzn.to/2OFElhq

The River Girl: amzn.to/2oQzRd4

The Gunpowder Girl: amzn.to/3iDAXjh

The Quarry Girl: http://amzn.to/35Dxf5P

The Railway Girl: amzn.to/2FL56io

The Wheewlright Girl: http://amzn.to/2SHQXFw

The Ambulance Girl: amzn.to/2uGaGxd

Lily’s Journey: amzn.to/2Z0qgAL

Hope at Holly Cottage: amzn.to/335SNEo

Nobody’s Girl: amzn.to/31m6Ioi

A Place to Call Home: amzn.to/2kzxcCJ

The Candle Factory Girl: amzn.to/2oqyq16

The Street of Broken Dreams: amzn.to/2Bjeg0g

For further details, visit Tania’s website at

www.tania-crosse.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter: @TaniaCrosse

Follow her on Facebook: https://bit.ly/3fZ8BQ7

Tania Crosse Author

Honno: “Great Women, Great Writing, Great Stories.” Today Thorne Moore interviews me: https://bit.ly/2WWQ1jW #weekendReads #Honno

Thorny matters

Thorne turns the tables on me today!

Fellow Honno author Judith Barrow has been running interviews on her blog (https://judithbarrowblog.com/) with other authors published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press. (Read her interview with me)  I thought it was about time that the table was turned on her, so here is my interview in similar vein, with Judith Barrow.

Judith Barrow

So, Judith, you are the tireless champion of other authors. Let’s hear about you, for a change.
How did Yorkshire lass come to be a Pembrokeshire author?

We found Pembrokeshire by accident. After we were married, and before children, we always holidayed for a week in July in Cornwall. But after seven years of marriage and with three children under three and our only mode of transport being an ancient van, we decided it was too far with a young family. So we thought we would go to Wales; not too difficult a journey from Yorkshire, we believed.
I borrowed books on Wales from the library and, balancing our 8-month-old twins, one on each knee, I read as much as I could about the county of Pembrokeshire. With wonderful beaches it sounded just the place to take children for a holiday
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We booked a caravan and, when the big day came, packed the van to the hilt with everything the children would need, remembering only at the last minute, to throw a few clothes in for ourselves.

It took us ten hours. In 1978 there was no easy route from the North of England to West Wales. We meandered through small lanes, stopping for emergencies like much needed drinks, picnics and lavatory stops. The closer we were to our destination the slower we went; in the heat of the day the engine in our old van struggled; we needed to top up the radiator every hour or so. For the last fifty miles we became stuck in traffic jams. We got lost numerous times.

All this and three ever-increasingly fractious children.

We arrived at the caravan site in the middle of the night so were relieved to find the key in the door. The owner, a farmer, had given up and gone home.

The following morning I woke early. Leaving David in charge of our exhausted and still sleeping family, I crept out. The air was warm; a breeze barely moved the leaves on the trees around the field. Although the caravan was one of four in the farmer’s field, we were the only people there.

I walked along a small path. Within minutes I was facing the sea, glittering in the sun; dark rocks jutted out of the water surrounded by foaming waves. The horizon was a silvery line far in the distance. Faint voices from two small fishing boats carried on the air. The cliffs curved round in a natural cove. It was so quiet, so peaceful.

I fell in love with Pembrokeshire.

Within months we’d thrown caution, and our past lives, to the wind and moved into a half-built house in what was a field. It took us years to finish it but it’s been a labour of love.

How could anyone not fall in love with Pembrokeshire? But your books are mostly set up north. How important is location in your books?

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For me it’s vitally important, because it sets the scene for where my characters live. |And I try to portray the locations as they would exist in a certain era. It takes a lot of research to make sure the details of both the place and the time are correct. Luckily I enjoy researching.

I always draw a map of the town or village so I can see the characters moving around, see what they see; experience what they experience. It’s the only way I can picture it.

Location was especially important for the trilogy. The first book, Pattern of Shadows, was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, Lancashire and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country. Rather than the noise of the machinery, the  colours of the cotton and cloth, the smell of oil, grease and the new material, I envisaged only vehicles coming and going, the sounds would be of men with a different language and dialect, no riot of colour, no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; just the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And the camp retains its importance throughout the trilogy after the war and into the sixties. It falls into ruin at the same time as the cotton industry is declining and the mill town where it is situated also deteriorates.

But, in the sequel, Changing Patterns and the last of the trilogy, Living in the Shadows, the characters are also in a small Welsh village; a complete contrast to the industrial town. And this disparity between the two locations is where the many layers of the human condition can be explored in order for me to create rounded characters that, hopefully, come to life on the page.

I hope that makes sense?

Perfect sense. Your first books, the Howarth stories, are a family saga. What appeals to you about that genre?

I love writing about the intricacies of relationships within families; it fascinate me. We live in such diverse situations and, a lot of the time; tend to take it all for granted. Being a family member, with the casual acceptance of one another that the circumstance brings, can bring the best and the worst out in all of us. So there is a wealth of human emotions to work with. It’s fascinating to write about that potential.  And, of course, behind closed doors, anything can happen. So the family saga is a genre that can cross over into historical fiction and the crime, mystery and romantic genres.

Your latest, The Memory, is still family-based but quite different. What made you shift direction for that one? What inspired it?

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It is new territory for me but the book is still set around a family unit so, from that point of view, I don’t think I strayed too far with The Memory. In the Haworth trilogy and the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, (set against the background of the first World War, the Suffragettes and the Irish War of Independence),  there is still an underlying theme of reactions to a situation. But the difference between those books and this one is that those characters, as well as reacting in a domestic setting, respond to a wider situation; their lives are affected by what is happening in the outside world.  In The Memory it is only Irene Hargreaves, the protagonist that the reader learns about; mainly from the claustrophobic atmosphere she is living in presently, but also through her memories.

It’s a more contemporary book than the others and also it’s written in a different style. The book runs on two timelines: Irene’s life from the age of eight, after her sister is born and her grandmother comes to live with the family because her mother refuses to accept her second daughter, Rose, a Downs Syndrome child. That’s written in past tense. The second timeline, over the last twenty-four hours is written in the present tense and shows Irene’s life as the carer of her mother, who has dementia.

I don’t know that it was inspired by any one thing. The Memory actually began as a short story I wrote a long time ago, which just grew and, which, in turn, started from a journal that I’d kept from when I was carer for one of my relatives who had dementia. I read many articles on coping with the disease at the time, but writing how I felt then helped tremendously. Writing like that always has; it’s something I did through many years from being a child.

Another memory was of was a childhood friend of mine; a Down’s syndrome child, though I didn’t realise then. We would sit on the front doorstep of their house and I would read or chat; well, I would talk and he would smile and laugh. I didn’t think that it was odd that he never spoke. Thinking about it, I never even wondered why he wasn’t in school either. Anyway, one Monday after school, I went along the lane to their house and the front door was closed. I didn’t understand; one day he was there and the next gone. No one explained that he’d died. I‘m not sure I even understood what that meant anyway. So, I did what I usually did; I wrote about it; how I felt losing a friend. So, from finding the short story in a drawer I was clearing out, my memories, and remembering the journals, came The Memory.

What matters to you, apart from your writing? 

Family and friends. At least the small family that David and I created. I suppose that sounds odd; perhaps even a little selfish to exclude any extended members of our families. But I’m being honest here. I wasn’t close to my parents for various reasons; reasons that partly underlined the decision to move so far away from Yorkshire. They weren’t bothered about their siblings, who we rarely saw, so I never really got to know any of them.  Don’t misunderstand me; when any of them needed us we willingly did what we could. But moving away from where most of them live meant we were unable to rely on instant support; there was no childminding, no unexpected welcome visits. It made us more self-sufficient. So by family I do mean David and the children. And their children; our grandchildren. Whatever happens; however much changes, whatever life chucks at us, they will always matter to me.

 And friends? Well, at my age (and I think this happens to most people as they get older), friends are fewer and become more important. And, at this stage, true friends tend to know you inside out; all the good bits and the not so good bits. And they still like you. I think that’s wonderful. And it works both ways!

How did you come to be a Honno author?

For many years, whilst writing books that stacked up in drawers, never to appear again, I was writing poetry, plays and short stories and entering creative writing competitions. I also used to look for notifications for submissions to anthologies. A friend told me about a call that had come from Honno. The remit was to write a story around the subjects of gardens and life. The title of the anthology, published in 2008, is Coming up Roses. My story is called Whose House is This? (I wrote a post about it here).

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Shortly after the anthology was published I attended a workshop run by Honno and, in conversation with the editor, Caroline Oakley, I said that I had recently completed a manuscript. I think I should mention here that this book was the first I’d ever been truly excited about; even reluctant to consign it to the drawer with the others. Caroline told me to send it to her, which I did.

But, previously I’d sent the book to an agent.  And this is where it all gets a bit messy, drawn out  and tedious; so all I will say is that the agent wanted me to work with a commercial editor to change the genre from family saga to chick lit ( not that there is anything wrong with chick lit, it’s just not what I write.) So, after much discussion, the agent and I parted company and it was a great relief when the book was accepted by Honno as a family saga. That book became the first of the Haworth trilogy, Pattern of Shadows.
The rest, as is often quoted, is history. I’ve been with Honno for over twelve years now and had five books published with them and another, The Heart Stone, to be released in 2021
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What do you value most about Honno?

Honno  is my kind of publisher; small, independent, and led by strong women who know what kind of  books they want to publish and don’t accept anything but the best that an author can produce. So the editing is hard, but fair, and leads to many discussions – and a few compromises on both sides.
Because it is known to be a Welsh press it is sometimes assumed that all its authors will be Welsh as well. So, often, when I’ve appeared at events, people are surprised to hear my broad Northern English accent. The supposition is false; Honno’s aim as an inspiring, feminist, Welsh press is to provide opportunities for women writers. The only proviso is that they are either Welsh, are living in Wales or have a connection to the country – which actually covers a great many writers. I love their strapline -. “Great Women, Great Writing, Great Stories.” So it always gives me a thrill when the manuscript I’ve been toiling over for months (or years!) is accepted by them.

Judith’s website

Judith at Honno

Judith on Twitter

Judith on Facebook

Judith on Pinterest

Judith on Amazon

Today I’m hosting my very first guest – the wonderful saga writer, Judith Barrow. Her latest book is just out – A Hundred Tiny Threads. So come and meet the Howarth family!

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http://merrynallingham.com/a-hundred-tiny-threads/?doing_wp_cron=1503679765.9046089649200439453125

A Hundred Tiny Threads

Today I’m welcoming Judith Barrow to the blog – my very first guest! It’s lovely to have you here, Judith. I really enjoy the family sagas you write, so my first question is:

What made you decide to write in your genre?

Families fascinate me. We live in such diverse situations and, a lot of the time, tend to take it all for granted. Being a family member can bring the best and the worst out in all of us, I think. So a wealth of human emotions to work with.

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

I recently held a series of interviews with other family saga authors. Through those posts it was lovely getting to know them and the way they work.  With some I’d already read their books, others, it was brilliant to discover their novels. I also have met writers, both Indie and traditionally published, through social media over the years and feel I know some of them quite well. My greatest support has come from the group of authors published by Honno. We have a Facebook group where we can chat and ask for help/ information and generally boost moral when it’s needed. And we’ve met up in real life on many occasions. My dearest Honno friend is Thorne Moore who is an invaluable help with the book fair we organise annually; I’d go so far to say it wouldn’t be half the success it is without her.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

No, I really don’t. It’s one of the things I stress to my adult creative writing classes; they have to feel what they write. If they don’t how can they expect the reader to empathise with their characters? I have laughed out loud with my characters, cried through some of the situations they’ve found themselves in, felt admiration and even envy for the strengths they have dealt with the hard times. And been completely exasperated and cross with some of them.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It’s funny you ask that. Not long ago I was told by another author that all my books were ’Samey’. I was quite incensed for a few moments until it was explained to me that she meant of the same genre. But even if they are all family sagas I still think that, like life in different families, each story needs to be original; both for my own satisfaction and for my readers. And writing style comes into that as well. Just lately I read a book by an author whose past books I’ve devoured. Her latest is written in such a different style I could have sworn it was by a different author. It wasn’t, of course but I wondered how she managed to write in such a diverse way. I’m not sure I could change my voice so drastically.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Ah, this is our great friend ‘foreshadowing’; I like to drop subtle hints of things to come into the main body of the story. I drive my husband mad by saying who’s done what/ what’s going to happen/ how something will turn out in television dramas. I do try to keep quiet but even then I say triumphantly, “Knew it!” afterwards. There’s satisfaction in being a reader and guessing the action to come. Then again, there’s great satisfaction as an author in leading the reader down the wrong track as well.

Do you want each book to stand-alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I set off to write Pattern of Shadows as a stand-alone but I knew here was another story about the Howarth family waiting in the wings. And that happened again after Changing Patterns, so Living in the Shadowsemerged. I breathed a sigh of relief when that last book of the trilogy was finished but after a week the two main characters of A Hundred Tiny Threads, the parents of Mary Howarth, the protagonist in the trilogy, stared clamouring. So their story had to be written.

Front of Secrets

I actually thought I’d finished with them all then. But up popped eight minor characters from the three books mithering and pecking at my head. So I wrote a set of short stories for them in my anthology, Secrets.A couple of them are still buzzing around… hmm!

 

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

 

Thank you. A Hundred Tiny Threads is the prequel to my trilogy. It’s a family saga set between 1911 and 1922 in Lancashire and Ireland during a time of social and political upheaval. So it covers the years of the Suffragettes, the First World War and the Uprising in Ireland with the Black and Tans. The two main characters are Winifred Duffy and Bill Howarth, the people who become the parents of Mary Howarth, the protagonist in the trilogy. As with the trilogy, it’s published by Honno (http://www.honno.co.uk) and has been described as an engaging, emotive novel.

 And finally where can readers find you?

 

Bloghttps://judithbarrowblog.com/
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/barrow_judith
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Judith-Barrow-327003387381656/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/judithbarrow/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+JudithBarrowauthor
Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/judith-anne-barrow-02812b11/

judith heashot last

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, Yorkshire, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for almost forty years. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen, a BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University and a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong learning Scheme

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Jane McCulloch #MondayBlogs

 Over the last few months and into July I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

jane mcculloch headshot

Welcome Jane, thank you for being here today.

 Thank you for the chance to chat here, Judith

Tell us, about your writing; does writing energise or exhaust you?                                                                                    

Both!

What are common traps for aspiring writers?  

To think it is easy!

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? 

No, but confidence helps.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?                         Perhaps a bit of both.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?                No.  Emotions and imagination are the tools you can’t do without.

Full Circle: Volume 3 (Three Lives Trilogy)

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?        

I know several, but one writer in particular has helped me and become my mentor. (Stephen Carver)

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?                                                         

Both – in the family saga there was a link between each of the three books.  My next book stands on its own.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Re-write and don’t be afraid of making major changes or cuts.

Triangles in Squares (Three Lives Trilogy Book 2)

What is the first book that made you cry?                                                                                  Jane Eyre – the death of Helen Burns.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I came to writing fiction very late after a career of writing and directing in the theatre – so it was difficult to change to fiction.  Once the first book was published I knew I was on the right lines.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?                                                             Paid advice (TLC) 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When reading “The Forsyte Saga” and quickly moved into that world.

Parallel Lines: Book One of the Three Lives Trilogy

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?  

A great deal – but I have been lucky enough to meet some fascinating people.  However –  general observation of people around you is vital to building characters.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? 

At this moment, only one.

What does literary success look like to you?        

Interest and appreciation from readers.

What’s the best way to market your books?   

I wish I knew.  I’m hopeless.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?         

If the book has a specific background I do a great deal research.  If it from my imagination I don’t need to – except to check facts.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?                                                       Anything creative has a spiritual element.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?           I’m never quite sure I have got into the male head!

How many hours a day do you write?                                                                                           This varies – depending on how the writing is going.

How do you select the names of your  characters?                                                                  This is something I take great trouble with and enjoy.  I try and make the name fit the character.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?                                                 

So far I have been lucky and had mainly good reviews.  I try to be fair and if a bad review is valid I want to learn from it.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will   find?                        

Maybe only recognition of traits in a character that a few people will see.

What was your hardest scene to write?    

I think those that were nearest to me emotionally, i.e. someone dying in the last book of the Trilogy.

What is your favourite childhood book?                                                                                      

A little unknown book called “Groundsel and Necklaces” written and illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker.  It still moves me to tears.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?                                                         Making an actual start.  Once the first paragraph is written, I’m off.

Does your family support your career as a writer?  

Yes they do, in that they take an interest.

How long on average does it take you to write a  book?                                                          It really depends on the sort of book but on average about 6 months.

Jane has been quite conservative with her answers so I thought I would add  a little more about her here:

Since leaving the Central School of Speech and Drama – a long time ago – I have worked as a writer, playwright, librettist – and theatre and opera director.
After a long association with London’s famous Old Vic Theatre I formed a company of my own, The English Chamber Theatre. Dame Judi Dench is the President.
Since its formation I have written, devised and directed over thirty works – many of them biographical in content.-and because of the nature of chamber work they had small casts and I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of our greatest actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Fenella Fielding, James Bolam, Timothy West and many others.
In 2005 I moved from theatre to opera directing and for the company Opera UK I wrote several English versions of the librettos including ‘The Merry Widow’, ‘Carmen’ and ‘La Traviata’.
I also wrote the libretto for an Easter Oratorio ‘The People’s Passion’ which was televised for BBC1 with Jessye Norman and Sir Thomas Allen heading the cast.
I wrote an original opera for children ‘Hello Mr Darwin’ and a Christmas carol, ‘This Christmastide’ which was sung first by Jessye Norman and has since become very popular both in the States and the UK.
My writing work also includes, work for the radio, television and recording studio.
Now I seem to be concentrating on novels. My first, ‘Parallel Lines’ was published in January 2015. It is the first in a family saga trilogy. The second book, ‘Triangles in Squares will be published later this year. The last in the trilogy, ‘Full Circle’ will be published in 2016.

And a teasing taster of Jane’s new book to come; publishing date to follow soon

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Find Jane here: http://amzn.to/2pLqN8O

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2pjSZOn

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2oYdopG

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Terry Tyler #author

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Today I’m with Terry Tyler. I first met Terry through Twitter after I’d read and reviewed Kings and Queens for #RBRT.  Since then I’m always waiting for her next book… and the next. Good job she’s such a prolific author.

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Hi, Terry, good to see you here, I’m looking forward to our chat. 

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

 Tell us why you chose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I’m not sure I have ever chosen a genre, as such; I just choose a story I want to write from the few currently in my head, and worry about what category it fits into afterwards.  Yes, I’m a book marketing nightmare!  But they’re always based around the connections between people.  Interactions within families are often the most complex and interesting of relationships, with the most potential for love, jealousy, resentment, etc, so the family saga aspect of my novels evolved of its own accord, and I think reached its zenith with The House of York, though I am not finished with it yet!  Sometimes my books fall into different genres, such as psychological drama/thriller, or my current WIP which has a post-apocalyptic setting; I suppose I write in more than one genre, yes, but those might all occur within one book.  I know I ought to think about balancing it better *holds hand out for slapped wrist*.

(Laughing!!! – not slapping wrist)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Nine or ten unpublished, that I wrote in the days before Amazon Kindle, and about three that I’ve started since, but given up because my heart was not in them.

What was the first book that made you cry?

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, I think.  I read it when I was about sixteen, after seeing the TV dramatization with Jenny Agutter and Richard Harris, and cried buckets at both.  Later, in my early twenties, there was Mirage by Andrea Newman.  It’s about a woman with an unfaithful husband, who leaves him when she can’t stand it anymore.  She tries so hard to build up a new life but, some time later, accepts that she will never be happy without him.  She contacts him and begs to be able to see him, just sometimes, even though he has married again; she ends up as his mistress.  It’s heartbreaking.  I found the thought of not being able to move on from a broken relationship quite terrifying; maybe the book influenced my own ‘recovery rate’ later in life!  Most sinisterly, the dedication in the Penguin paperback reads simply, ‘For Terry’.  How about that, eh?

 How about that! And sinisterly- great word – wonder if you can copyright a word?

You Wish...

What do you think is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Judging by some of the books I’ve read in which it’s been done badly, I’d say it’s understanding that there is more to writing someone of the opposite sex than giving them an appropriate name, describing their lustrous auburn tresses/strong broad shoulders, then writing them out of your own head.  You’ve got to understand what makes the opposite sex tick, the differences between the sexes, how men talk to each other when there are no women around, and vice versa.

Good answer! In that case how do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes they arrive in my head with their name attached.  If they don’t, I try out lots of different names according to social class, generation and my own preferences, until I find one that ‘sits’ right.  I am careful not to have any main and secondary characters with similar names, or those starting with the same letter, as this can be confusing for the reader.

Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I am a bit lazy/not dedicated enough about promotion.  I detest Facebook, have never used Google +, Pinterest or most of the other sites that we’re ‘meant’ to use for spreading the word.  I don’t do paperbacks because I would rather watch ten solid hours of Celebrity Big Brother than do literary festivals and signing sessions, which is, I believe, one of the main ways in which ‘indie’ authors sell them.  I can’t see myself hawking them round independent bookshops, either; sales is not my forté.  I rely solely on Twitter, book blogs, Amazon visibility and word of mouth.  This detracts from my writing time in that I do all my Twitterly and blog stuff first thing, and it often takes more time than I intend, because I enjoy it.  On the other hand, I turn on my laptop as soon as I get up, while I’m letting my first coffee of the morning do its stuff, so in a way it ‘warms me up’ for the writing day!

What do you like to read in your free time?

Historical fiction is a great favourite, if it’s very well researched and teaches me about the era.  I like my histfic quite heavy: battles, feuds, struggles against authority, the settling of old scores, the dark and desperate.  My other favourite genre is post apocalyptic; I love to read anything about survival in adverse circumstances, so I also like polar and seafaring adventures, as long as they go horribly wrong.  I love good zombie fiction, and some general contemporary dramas, if they’re edgy and realistic.  I’ll read horror type thrillers, too (I do love a good psychopath), but not paranormal/supernatural.  Not interested in things that go bump in the night.  Apart from zombies.

 An eclectic mix then, Terry.  But zombies!  (shivering) Your enthusiasm almost makes me want to give the genre a go… almost. 

So, what projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently editing the first book in my post apocalyptic series.  It’s about a targeted depopulation plot that goes wrong.  As touched upon in your first question, it’s still very much a character-orientated drama, and centres around my 34 year old protagonist, Vicky, her boyfriend and 16 year old daughter, and various friends.  As soon as I’ve sent it off for test/proofreading I shall start the next one; I plan to have the first two books ready to go before I publish the first, so the second can be released very soon afterwards, because I hate waiting six months for the next instalment when I’m reading a series.  I am not quite sure how the whole thing ends yet; I’m trying not to worry about this too much…  it might end prematurely if no one likes it!

What do your plans for future projects include?

Three of my books are contemporary family sagas based on events from history: Kings and Queens and Last Child, which is my updated story of Henry VIII, his wives and children, and The House of York, which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses.  I want to write another one, based on the life of Henry II and his four sons.  That’ll be next, after the current series.  I think.   Depends what else pops into my head, really.  I’ve been semi-planning a book set during the 14th century for a while, but am scared about writing histfic in case I can’t do it well enough.

Kings And Queens by [Tyler, Terry]Last Child by [Tyler, Terry]The House Of York by [Tyler, Terry]

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That’s an interesting question, and one I’ve sat here and thought about for a while.  My answer is this: I think that those who have the urge to create, be it novels, poetry, music or painting, tend to feel emotions strongly, per se.  The two go hand in hand.  I’ve read novels in which the writer clearly has no idea about the emotion they aim to portray; out come the clichés and stock reactions.  On the other hand, feeling emotions deeply doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good writer.  It’s all about whether or not you can get what’s in your head onto the paper, in such a way that others want to read it.

Round And Round

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

About 75%-25%, I think.  I can only write a book if I’m madly enthusiastic about it, and, alas, that book may or may not appeal to the people who liked the previous one.  However, once I start writing I do try to write as a reader, if you like, and remain aware of what makes me enjoy a book.  For instance, in my current WIP, I originally had the chapters alternating between the past and the present.  Half the story was about the build up to the virus to end all viruses, the other half taking place in the post-pandemic world.  Ten chapters in, I realised that every time I moved forward to ‘afterwards’, I was taking the reader away from build up to the disaster.  So I moved it all around and put it in straight chronological order.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I read almost everything on ebook, it’s my choice every time.  I love the convenience, the price, the facilities on the Kindle app, everything.  The only downside is that I also love rooms filled with books, and 95% of those I’ve bought in the last five years are hidden away on my tablet.

As for alternative vs conventional publishing, all that matters is the words on the page, not who published them.  If a book is great, it’s great, and if it’s mediocre, it doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up.  I think self-publishing will only lose its stigma when everyone thinks like this, and realises that, in these days when anyone can set themselves up as a publisher, with independents and vanity presses popping up everywhere, ‘getting published’ is no longer necessarily an indication of quality.  A few months ago, a book blogger expressed surprise that I had not been ‘snapped up’ by a publisher; she meant it as a compliment, most kindly, but (after I’d thanked her!) I took the opportunity to explain to her that writers who self-publish usually do so by choice (by which I mean that we don’t submit our books to publishers), because we want to have control over every aspect of our work.  I know that some writers go with a publisher simply to give their books more credibility, and, indeed, it will take a long time before all book bloggers, reviewers and readers understand that self-published doesn’t mean substandard, and that there is a world of difference between a book deal from Simon & Schuster, a contract with a decent independent, and one with Joe Bloggs Publishing who doesn’t even recognise slack editing.

How do you find or make time to write?

Writing is what I do; it’s all the other stuff I have to make time for.  I haven’t done the ironing since 2014.  I think my husband’s been waiting for his dinner since around then, too.  (I did the ironing this afternoon, really; I’m having a ‘doing all the other stuff’ day!)

(Laughing!)  I call it ‘domestic trivia’. That puts it in its place.

Nobody's Fault

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I always read them.  Good ones are lovely, of course, absolutely make my day, but all reviews are helpful.  Obviously, nobody wants a bad one, and sometimes they can be irritating (like, when someone who usually reads crime thrillers complains that a light contemporary drama isn’t thrilling enough, which would be a bit like me reading a vampire book and giving it one star because I don’t like stories about vampires), but there are a hundred different ways to read everything, and some people will love what you do, some will like it, some will think it’s okay, and some will think it’s rubbish/boring.  I don’t agonise over bad ones.  I admit to reading them by peeping through my fingers like I do with scary films, though.

What It Takes

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

My most recent publication is The Devil You Know.

The Devil You Know by [Tyler, Terry]

It’s a psychological drama about five people who suspect that a local serial killer might be someone close to them.  There’s a mother who thinks it’s her son, an abused wife who thinks it’s her husband, a young chap who suspects the worst about his friend, etc etc.  It’s not a police procedural type crime thriller, as the actual detection of the killer plays only a small part in the whole novel.  I’m very pleased that the reviews have been some of the best I’ve ever received, and it appeared on four book bloggers’ ‘Best of 2016’ lists.  Yes, I know I should capitalise on that by writing something else in the same vein, but….I refer you back to Question One!

Thank you for inviting me to take part in your author interview feature, Judith.

Thank you for being here, Terry. It’s been fascinating listening to you.

 Connect with Terry here:

https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4

http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/

http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyl

And I hope you’ll excuse a little self – promotion of my own family sagas published by Honno:

http://amzn.to/2klIJzN

pattern of shadowschanging Patternsliving in the shadows

And,  coming soon – on the 17th August – the prequel to the trilogy:

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